Megyn Kelly, ‘feminist icon,’ on Vanity Fair cover

January 5, 2016

Good morning.

  1. When you’re hot…
    Megyn Kelly of Fox News is the cover profile of the new Vanity Fair, with the online version of a generally flattering opus also including video of her photo shoot. “Kelly has become a feminist icon of sorts—the sort who won’t actually call herself a feminist.” (Vanity Fair) She says that Oprah is her role model and, “I think that there’s a spiritual component to my personality that is completely unutilized in my current job.” There’s also video of her extemporaneously divining supposedly tough questions for 12 newsmakers, ranging from Vladimir Putin to Brian Williams, with the latter along the lines of, “How can people trust you when…?” Oh, please. Meanwhile, female TV folks, some on the left, praise her as Ms.-No-Holds-Barred-Interrogator. But Gawker is not persuaded by either her secular or spiritual components, with its characteristically coy analysis subtly titled, “Megyn Kelly is a Horrible Person.” (Gawker) Well, there are perils in capturing a certain cable TV zeitgeist.
  2. Yahoo’s slouching toward irrelevance
    “Yahoo’s chief executive, Marissa Mayer, spent much of the last two years telling Wall Street that video was a cornerstone of her turnaround strategy.” (The New York Times) Now it’s shutting its four-year-old video portal, Yahoo Screen. As a savvy media friend of mine suggested last night, “Yahoo has become the newspaper company of the Internet: Late to embrace things that many Web-focused companies already know don’t work. She’s lost, I fear.”
  3. What goes around…
    “After less than two years at the helm of the Sunlight Foundation, Christopher Gates is headed for the exit.” (Poynter). Unmentioned in the formal announcement by the nonpartisan open government group was that staff turnover after his arrival was akin to that following the ascensions of Fidel Castro and Vladimir Putin. A board meeting made clear it was time for him to exit. Its formal statement on its own website was conspicuous in not even mentioning his name as it announced the great news of beginning its second decade by launching a search for a new executive director. (Sunlight Foundation)
  4. Forbes’ 30 Under 30
    If you’re way over 30, this may be too depressing. But The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates, Vox Media’s Jim Bankoff and Twitter’s Katie Stanton chose the following media folks: Heben Nigatu, BuzzFeed senior editor; Ana Kasparian, cohost, The Young Turks; Derek Thompson, senior editor, The Atlantic; Doreen St. Félix, editor-at-large, Lenny; and Nisha Chittal, manager of social media, MSNBC.” (Forbes, Poynter)
  5. Perfect for late-night tavern wagers
    So how many coin-operated newspaper boxes are left? Well, the Toronto Star has 1,000, down from a high of 4,000. But The New York Times has a mere 39. Yes, 39. This includes three in Georgia and not a single one in New York. The rest are in various Western states. Thanks to our friends north of the border for this perfect for “Jeopardy!” information. (The Globe and Mail)
  6. Nice try but…
    Managers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a newspaper purchased by the family of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, beckoned the editor of their Providence, Rhode Island paper to talk to a disgruntled newsroom. (CNN/Money) Dave Butler wondered, “How often do we need to mention the owners?” Dear Dave: Instead of managing upwards to win points with your bosses and implicitly treating the staff as hysterical kids, mull the notion that the safest answer to your rhetorical question is: “A whole lot.” When I had to cover a rancorous production strike long ago at The Chicago Tribune, where I worked, the then-editor told me on the walkout’s first night, “Well, you might as well cover this as comprehensively and straight as you want. Nobody’s going to believe half of what we write about it, anyway.” Butler told CNN “he did not suggest that the Review-Journal newsroom back away from Adelson coverage.”

    Meanwhile, amid all the media hand-wringing over Adelson, might somebody actually do a substantive analysis of the quality of the paper to begin with? Sheesh, you’d almost think that ISIS had taken over The New Yorker.

  7. Charlie Hebdo marks a dark anniversary
    The terrorist attack on the Paris satire magazine came Jan. 7. It marks the anniversary with a cover “that depicts a bloodied, deity-like figure holding a gun. The caption: ‘One year on: The assassin still at large.’ Its editor is said to plan an editorial that defends secularism and the right “to laugh at the religious.” (The Washington Post)
  8. A big media trend for 2016?
    Is it more journalists tweeting every banal reflection on their every waking moment? Is it local TV news stations deciding to admit their 25 daily factual mistakes? Or is it the cable news channels deciding to routinely disclose the financial conflicts of interest of their political, military and other pundits across the bottom of the screen? Well, the case is made that the answer may be this: “The digital ad system is having an existential crisis.” OK, go ahead and doubt that the digital ad system is capable of the requisite thought to constitute an existential crisis. But, “programmatic buying and huge inventory keep generic rates low. Ad blocking is on the rise, and a counter-strategy is far from obvious.” And after the Federal Trade Commission may go after “deceptively labeled native advertising.” (Poynter) Journalists beware, some of your bosses pray this doesn’t happen and would swap loads of these ad dollars over a shelf of Pulitzers, Peabody or Polk Awards.
  9. The future of technology explained
    When are wearables going to take off? Was 2015 Facebook’s biggest year? What is the state of Silicon Valley’s relationship with Washington, D.C.? Can the mobile-desktop hybrid really replace your laptop or tablet? What does Google’s restructuring into Alphabet mean? Are tech companies responding to the growing wave of online abuse? Did Apple do anything really creative this year? What are the new challenges facing Uber? And is your head about to explode from all these questions? Well, everything but that last one is addressed in a discussion among tech smarties on the audio “Re/code Decode” in advance of the gigantic (170,000 attendees) Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that starts Wednesday. (Re/code) Maybe they’ll discuss the future of Las Vegas newspapers owned by casino moguls.
  10. Melbourne Renegades news!
    You missed Monday’s Australian cricket match between the Renegades and Hobart Hurricanes? Well, you missed a star player flirting on camera after the game with a reporter and asking her out for a drink. (The Huffington Post) Which also begs the question: Is the media’s employment of attractive females on the sidelines of all professional sports fields for pre-game and post-game insights now a practice institutionalized worldwide? Is there a potential employment discrimination lawsuit to be brought by non-attractive males or females who can’t also probingly inquire, “Coach, you’re down five touchdowns at halftime. What do you tell your team in the locker room?” Or will the sidelines prove to be a sports ghetto with males continuing to monopolize the real action in the announcing booth?
  11. Who controls your Facebook feed?
    “Every time you open Facebook, one of the world’s most influential, controversial, and misunderstood algorithms springs into action. It scans and collects everything posted in the past week by each of your friends, everyone you follow, each group you belong to, and every Facebook page you’ve liked. For the average Facebook user, that’s more than 1,500 posts. If you have several hundred friends, it could be as many as 10,000.” So who’s behind this? The answer: a bunch of folks in Menlo Park, California. (Slate)
  12. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
    Dan Wilson will be news director for KPHO/KTVK in Phoenix, Arizona. Previously, he was news director for WPTV in West Palm Beach, Florida. Leeza (Glazier) Starks is now news director for KERO in Bakersfield, California. Previously, she was assistant news director for KFSN in Fresno. (Rick Gevers) | Jessica Torres is now editor in chief of Siempre Mujer. Previously, she was deputy editor there. (Email) | Cameron Easley is now managing editor of Morning Consult. Previously, he was managing editor for Roll Call. (Email) | Job of the day: The Los Angeles Times is looking for a government and politics reporter. Get your resumes in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves:

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